TOKYO, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Japan have more than lived up to expectations at their home World Rugby Cup, winning all three Pool A matches, and will secure their first quarter-final berth if they manage to maintain the streak on Sunday against Scotland.
Preparation has been the keyword for Jamie Joseph and his players over the last nine months, with a training camp that began in January, and it remains the buzzword as they head into their final pool match.
“I know lots of people made out we can’t compete against tier one teams, but the thing about this team is we really do believe in preparation and plans,” fullback Will Tupou said on Monday.
“Jamie always said if we can believe in the plan and execute, we can do amazing things as the boys have shown in this tournament.”
Japan sit atop Pool A with three wins from three, including beating Ireland in the surprise result of the tournament.
However, they are not resting on their laurels and know four years of preparation could be for nothing if they lose to Scotland.
“What we’ve been doing good is not going to be good enough to win the game,” said lock Uwe Helu. “We need to be great, make good preparation and focus on ourselves.”
If Scotland beat Russia on Wednesday, they will head into Sunday’s decisive match with a chance to knock Japan out of the World Cup, just as they did four years ago in England, when the Japanese became the first team to win three games and not qualify for the quarter-finals.
“Not just me but the whole team has been saying that the fourth game would be the key,” said flyhalf Yu Tamura, who is the leading scorer at the World Cup with 40 points.
“We have got all this talk about points and bonus points but we hope to forget all that and face Scotland, making the best preparation we can.” (Reporting by Jack Tarrant Editing by Karishma Singh, Robert Birsel)